Campaign launched to lobby government for urgent support for city’s cultural and creative sectors

Make It York and City of York Council have joined forces with other key players across York’s cultural sector to be a part of an open letter to government today (Monday 27th April) calling for an urgent fund for creative industries to help those organisations and professionals hit hardest by the fallout of Covid-19.

The open letter to Government is part of a campaign led by the Creative Industries Federation seeking to highlight the urgent support needed for the creative industries. The letter warns that the government must “act, and act fast” to avoid the UK becoming “a cultural wasteland”. Key players from across the city’s cultural sector have signed the letter including the Guild of Media Arts, York Museums Trust, York Theatre Royal, York St John University, Explore York Libraries & Archives, National Centre for Early Music, Pilot Theatre, York Civic Trust and York Music Venue Network. It has also received support of signatories from across the UK’s creative sector, from leading actors, writers and musicians, to heads of some of the UK’s best-loved creative and cultural organisations.

As part of the ongoing business impact survey which is being carried out by Make It York in conjunction with the City of York Council and York BID, early results have shown that the city’s cultural sector is urgently in need of further Government support. With a third of York’s creative industry sector saying they do not have sufficient capital to survive the business impacts they are facing as a result of COVID-19, initial indicators from the survey also have shown that more than 50% of the sector expect to be affected for six months or more once social distancing restrictions are lifted – with two thirds of these predicting it will take more than 12 months.

These initial results come as part of a wider assessment of York’s business community which is currently being carried out by Make It York to gauge the key issues facing the different industries. The feedback given will be used to tailor how business support is delivered most effectively to the different sectors and adapt resource as needed.

The letter forms part of the Creative Industries Federation’s #OurWorldWithout campaign, which celebrates the UK’s brilliant creative industries whilst drawing attention to the fact that more than 50% of creative organisations and professionals have already lost 100% of their income. Creative Industries Federation research shows that 1 in 7 creative organisations only have reserves to last until the end of April. Only half have reserves that will last beyond June.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Communities said: “Whilst the current Government measures which have been put in place to support the cultural sector are welcome, there is more which urgently needs to be done to protect businesses and individuals working in these industries. In York, we anticipate many of the 1000 micro and one-person businesses who have benefited from City of York Council’s Covid-19 Micro Grant Scheme will be in the cultural and creative sectors. We will continue to work with the Creative Industries Federation to support their nationwide campaign to ensure the Government to take action in this area.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York said, “We know that the impact on local York businesses across all sectors is huge and our business impact survey has already highlighted some key areas where more support is needed. The creative and cultural sectors are immensely important to York’s business community and with the city’s theatres, venues, museums and galleries closed due to lockdown, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support this sector.
“We have already doubled the size of the Make It York team helping businesses access loans and grants and are passing on intelligence around where more support is required to the LEP which is, in turn, talking directly to HM Treasury with a view to extending support. The extension of government loan guarantees to cover 100% of loans to businesses with a turnover of less than £500k is a good example of the influence we can have by working together.
“We have also begun looking at recovery once lockdown restrictions are eventually lifted. This includes planning for a range of high profile events in the city and making sure that York’s profile is front and centre regionally, nationally and internationally.”

The Make It York business support survey is currently open for businesses to feedback their experiences of how they have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and can be accessed here:

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